HALLOWEEN KILLS Review; "Heaps Of Gore And Inventive Kills, But Ultimately More Filler Than Killer"
Halloween Kills is now playing in theaters (and on Peacock), but this disappointing sequel sets the stage for a finale that's bound to be divisive...all while undoing much of the good work in Halloween.
It goes without saying that 1978's Halloween is a classic, and while we could spend all day debating the quality of the now non-canon sequels (and reboots), it feels like everyone can agree that 2018's Halloween was a worthy follow-up to John Carpenter's original. Unfortunately, just about everything that worked there is thrown out for a muddled, disappointing sequel that's really the worst example of a middle chapter in a trilogy. Horror fans will love the gore, but David Gordon Green's Halloween Kills goes completely off the rails and is, at times, as painful to watch as death at the hands of Michael Myers.
Picking up almost immediately where we left things in Halloween, Laurie Strode is hospitalised and sidelined for almost the entirety of the movie. In fact, Jamie Lee Curtis has almost no screentime and the spotlight is instead shifted to the residents of Haddonfield. Some have a history with Myers, while others have clearly just had enough with the horrors being inflicted on their town; however, they're all dumb as a box of rocks and arguably deserving of the violent fates that await them. Green and writers Scott Teems and Danny McBride are clearly trying to say something here, but the heavy-handed messages about vigilante justice and violence are lost in the shuffle and nowhere near as poignant or hard-hitting as they likely thought. On the one hand, we'll give Halloween Kills' creative team some props for trying something new rather than spending another 105 minutes having the horror icon chase down Laurie and her family (a far better option, actually), but these characters - even the ones with familiar names - are ultimately meaningless and often laughable.
Clearly setting the stage for what promises to be a divisive finale (Curtis has even said it's likely to anger fans), Gordon loads up most of the movie with a series of brutal murders that are undeniably visceral and a joy to watch if you're a horror fan. Michael, who now strains credibility as a Terminator-like killer, is as frightening as ever, and if you're looking for some good scares, then this is a hard movie to fault. Unfortunately, everything else is so dire - like a riot in the hospital as the locals chase down a podgy mental patient who is quite blatantly not Michael Myers - that a few suspense scenes are nowhere near enough to redeem the movie.
Judy Greer is a highlight as Laurie's daughter, Karen, while Andi Matichak continues to impress as Allyson (Laurie's granddaughter). Seeing her take a more proactive role this time around is good fun, and we're hoping that at least continues heading into Halloween Ends. We can't fault Curtis, but her role is so meaningless that there's really not much else to say; seeing the effect her encounter with Michael had on the young Laurie was one of the best things about Halloween, but all she's really given the opportunity to do here is stagger around the hospital shrieking, "It's not him, it's not him!" The rest of the cast is fine, but suffice to say you won't miss any of them once they fall victim to this seemingly unstoppable killer.
There are things to like about Halloween Kills; the movie kicks off with a brilliant flashback scene showing how Michael was apprehended in 1978 that feels like Carpenter himself directed it. For fans of that movie, there are also tonnes of memorable Easter Eggs and world-building that, for the most part, works pretty well. Green also delivers some terrific visuals, with that fiery battle highlighted in the trailers a real sight to behold. It's just unfortunate that all this builds to an underwhelming ending that's guaranteed to divide fans; some will be glad to see the franchise head down this route, but it's also difficult not to mourn the more grounded nature of both the 1978 and 2018 movies that relied more on ambiguity and the audience's imagination.
Halloween Kills sidelines Jamie Lee Curtis for a laughably bad middle chapter of a trilogy that features heaps of gore and inventive kills, but is ultimately more filler than killer and a real letdown after 2018's Halloween.